I'm back with another update on the production of "My Love Affair With Marriage". Last time I took things really easy, I just re-printed what Signe and Sturgis wrote for their Kickstarter update, called "Anatomy of a Set", which was a great breakdown of everything that goes into making just ONE of the approximately 50 sets that will be built for the 150 scenes that will make up this feature film. (This is a very rough estimate, right now we're assuming that each set could be used for about three separate scenes, but this is just an estimate, and is likely to change.)
While I was on vacation, my wife and I spent a couple days in Dallas and on our way out of town, we stopped at the famous Southfork Ranch, which is where they shot the TV soap opera "Dallas" back in the 1980's. Do you remember the Ewings - J.R., Bobby, Sue Ellen, Jock and Miss Ellie? From 1978 to 1991 (and again on a recent re-boot) these characters lived in a big house on this ranch outside Dallas - but it turns out that they only filmed the exterior shots there, since they didn't have permission to shoot inside the house. All of the interior scenes were filmed months later, on a soundstage in Los Angeles.
We were a little disappointed, I mean, we got to see where the Ewings ate their breakfast on the patio next to the pool, but the other rooms of the house didn't look familiar at all. I got to thinking about how much of a hassle it must have been to shoot this TV show, and to keep track of what each character was wearing, or how they styled their hair, because if a character was seen outside and inside in the same episode, those two scenes were filmed several months apart, and in two different cities, hundreds of miles from each other. Plus, it seemed like a very inefficient and expensive way to make a TV show, especially since they had to fly everyone from L.A. to Dallas and back, and then keep track of what everyone was wearing every day, for the sake of continuity.
What does all this have to do with "My Love Affair With Marriage"? Well, you might think that the easiest way to make a movie or TV show is to start at the beginning, film the first shot first, and the last shot last, like a staged play. And some productions may do that to make things easier for the actors to have real reactions to things, but in most cases movies film their scenes out of order, to either work around difficult actor or location schedules, or just because it makes more sense logistically. The mysteries of scheduling are probably different for every project, and nobody wants to waste time, money or materials any more than they have to.
For "My Love Affair With Marriage", Signe is going to be filming background plates for the animation, and since these are real physical sets, with real (miniature) props, it's going to require an incredible amount of organization to keep track of everything. What if Sturgis builds that hallway scene and they film the backgrounds for two scenes there, and then after breaking down the set they realize that there were really THREE scenes that needed to use that set? That's a lot of work to have to re-build sets, again and again. So once that hallway is built, it just makes sense to shoot all of the scenes that use it, and then the set can be broken down and those materials can be used for another set-up.
Then each scene is going through a number of different phases which involve drawing and animating the characters, doing line-testing, scanning, coloring, compositing and editing. I'll try to cover these steps as topics in later posts.
But the point is that we've got to be very careful about what we're doing, because things could get very confusing very quickly. To make sure that everyone will know what's been done and what hasn't been done, Signe made this chart: